This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
There’s a certain type of pat morality we expect of a Christmas special. Even the most cynical characters and series might find comfort and joy in the season. Indeed, the insistence on moral lessons at the end of Christmas stories seems to supersede the typical tone and characterization of the series as a whole, giving “Christmas specials” more in common with one another than they have with their own series. It’s a common enough phenomenon that we both expect and accept it right from the jump, but that’s exactly the expectation Hope Larson and Sami Basri thwart in Batgirl 18. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 44, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
Ryan: When we’re children, it is clear to whom we owe obedience. We must do what our parents, teachers, coaches, pastors tell us. Part of growing up is learning to choose who deserves that kind of subservience. Certainly, in adult relationships a certain amount of respect is shown by listening and acting in accordance with someone else’s wants. But what about those in our adult lives who request blind and total acquiescence? Should we bend to their whims and deny our own? Also, what kind of person would expect us to? The Velvet Tiger and Batgirl don’t have much in common, but they both have an expectation of obedience. They are each in a leadership position and expect their employees to curb their own ambitions and curtail their own desires. The Velvet Tiger is looking for fealty and unwavering loyalty, while Batgirl’s exerts her authority in a paternalistic effort of protection. Continue reading →
Today, Suzanne Drew and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 37, originally released December 10th, 2014. Drew: I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that Barbara Gordon has one of the least memorable origin stories in the Bat-mythos. In fact, without the inciting incident of murdered/criminal parents, or simply figuring out Batman’s identity, it’s arguable that she doesn’t have an origin “story” — she just kind of became Batgirl in the same way someone becomes an adult. That means she doesn’t have the same motivations built into her character that Bruce, Dick, Jason, Tim, Cassandra, Steph, and Damian all have. That’s not to say she’s a lesser character — indeed, she’s been the center of several great stories — just that her “mission” isn’t as strongly defined or as personally motivated as those of her peers. With Batgirl 37, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart turn that lack of definition into a huge asset, making Babs an infinitely more believable 20-something. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Batgirl 35, originally released October 8th, 2014.
Drew: Referring to the setting of a story as a character has always irked me. Never mind that it’s a total cliche, but it’s almost invariably applied as a shorthand for a sense of place we all recognize that the story relies on as a crutch. In that way, I suppose settings are used as characters, but they’re stock characters, no more remarkable than, say, “high school jock” or “loose cannon cop.” The genericness of locations-as-characters only becomes more exaggerated in the fictional cities of comics, which have seen just as many interpretations over the years as the heroes that occupy them. When Gotham has been interpreted as everything from gothic to neo-gothic to art deco to just straight-up modern, and from post-apocalyptic to post-corruption, it’s impossible to generate any sense of setting without elaborating on this particular interpretation of the city. Fortunately, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher do just that as they take the helm of Batgirl, lending specificity to their Gotham by, of all things, co-opting the stock character of Brooklyn. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Batgirl 32, originally released June 11th, 2014.
Patrick: I was recently putting together a resume for a creative position, and I found myself completely unable to distill what’s special about me into a digestible collection of jobs and experiences. Just by virtue of being a human being for over thirty years, I’ve amassed a weird collection of skills and experiences, and the only reason I can believe that it’s all part of a single lifetime is because I was there to experience it all. I’ve got something of an obsessive mind, and a propensity to burn myself out, so my list of former passions is long. The point is, there’s a lot feeding into the person I am today, and while it’s easiest to say that I am the handful of things that have effected me most recently (i.e.: improviser, writer, comic enthusiast, administrator), that definition is woefully inadequate. The same is doubly true for superheroes, and Batgirl 32 revels in developments from the recent past while acknowledging a history (both real and invented) that demands to be honored.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Batgirl 31, originally released May 14th, 2014.
Shelby: I love me a good, jovial villain. Any bad guy can be evil and cranky, but when they’re amiable, pleasant, flirty even, that is hands down the best. Those villains are unpredictable and creepy. Best/worst of all: you can almost find yourself liking them. They don’t fit into the standard good guy/bad guy dichotomy, which creates a far more complicated relationship between them, the actual good guys, and the reader. I love complicated relationships with fictional characters (what’s up, John Constantine), so I’m thrilled to see Gail Simone and Fernando Pasarin welcome Ragdoll to Gotham City and Batgirl.